Once again faith decided to take us to a beautiful place to spend a fairly unexpected day-off. Long story – short – my husband’s days off are rarely the same as the bank holidays in England, and one of those days in May was on a Thursday. Being in the middle of the week, you can imagine we couldn’t go anyplace too far from where we are. Forecast was rain everywhere we could possibly think of going to and all of a sudden my better half comes in saying forecast for Cambridge is sunny all day. That decided it – before we knew we were heading there, without any particular plan of what was there to see and visit.
It was supposed to be a very short drive, which seemed like forever, but gave us a view to a different side of England away from the busy motorways and off to the more “rural” part of it. It felt strange, but at the same time peaceful and somehow inviting. We’ve been to the other “university centre” if I may call it that – Oxford, and it somehow lacked the vibe we were hoping for. It was crowded, touristy and not so impressive. Cambridge, on the other hand, charmed us even before we got there. On entering the town streets are as narrow as in almost every English town, especially with all the cars parked on both sides of the road. However, buildings were old, yet well-preserved; lawns were green and well-kept, which all added to the overall impression. My husband had already done his research about the most important thing when going someplace new – where to park, and we ended up in the central shopping centre of Cambridge. We didn’t spend much time there but decided to make our way to one of the main “college“ streets and then go in a circle walking around some of the places we wanted to see and come back to where we started from (the map on the left). Well, that didn’t work out quite as planned. Turns out the two bridges we were aiming for were on the grounds of some of the colleges and therefore we had to pay the entrance fee to enter, in order to see them (or as one gentleman at the gate of St. John’s College nicely suggested: “You could go by a punt or by helicopter”).
We made our way to see the Round Church, which, to be fair, looked old and beautiful, but were we come from we’ve seen many such churches, so we were not impressed and being pressed for time – decided not to enter, even though it said at the entrance that this was where a tour of Cambridge starts.
Then we decided to go back and have a go entering the above-mentioned college, where the famous Bridge of Sights was residing. Even though the entrance fee was quite expensive, we enjoyed this little walk through the old buildings in the peace and quiet. The added benefit was escaping the crowds of tourists on the main street. The bridge – well, nothing too special and still with the punts going under seemed like we were in Venice, but greener. I guess whoever named that bridge was trying to get the associations in people’s minds, and my guess is that students have to pass the river walking on that bridge to their exams J
I wish we could have stayed longer and enjoyed the view, but little one was hungry so as soon as we exited the college, we made our way back through Trinity College.
The path took us back to where we started from and so we decided to have some lunch in a place called Don Pasquale, which was nicely situated by the market we saw earlier. Food was great and prices reasonable, so I do recommend.
Our last wish, or at least my husband’s wish, was to see Newton’s famous tree, which was supposed to be on the grounds of King’s College (or so we were told), but we were not let in because of exams being held at the same time. So please, if someone has seen it – share a photo with me. I know it is probably just an ordinary tree, and it may not even be the original, but it would be nice to see considering all the efforts we made.
Our day ended with, of course, some shopping and a huge chocolate muffin from Jamaica Blue (which btw was not as good as the one offered in COSTA coffee).
It was all a very nice experience, which we might attempt again in the future, when little one is older and we can go on one of those punts, which definitely caught my eye.
A little side note – we were disappointed by a couple of things: First of all was how touristy the main college area was. I know we contributed to this whole chaos, but whole groups of foreign tourists taking pictures, walking unsteadily in a very chaotic way was something one would expect to see in London, but not here. Turns out that they were mostly on that main street called King’s Parade, while when you swirl to one of the smaller side streets – it is much more peaceful and quiet. The other disappointment came from the fact that everywhere we wanted to go and have a look had an entrance fee, and it was a solid one. I do, however, understand why that is – people actually go to study in those buildings and the higher fee was more likely to put off tourists from entering and bringing the chaos inside. Still, that was the main reason why we saw much less than we were hoping for and still remained charmed by this place.